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SOURCE: Antioch’s seeds in art, resown

August 3, 2012

It’s hard to miss the activity encompassing Antioch College this summer.  The construction crews are out in full throttle, and students, faculty and staff have repopulated the campus and downtown Yellow Springs.  Last fall, the Herndon Gallery, one of the previous administration’s treasures, reemerged alongside the first class of the new Antioch.  In early 2012, Dennie Eagleson, an arts professor at Antioch until it’s close in 2008, was hired as the college’s Creative Director, charged with oversight of the Herndon Gallery and the developing Artist in Residence program.

Basia Irland, Cleo Reading Tome II

The Herndon is again poised to be a hub for contemporary art and interpretation in the region.  It’s mission of hosting intellectually stimulating exhibitions, academic and community-generated discussion, and intellectual and creative programming, invite possibilities far beyond the usual realm of a small liberal arts college gallery.  Through an advisory committee of artists, students, staff, and faculty, Eagleson, along with Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Sara Black, organize and oversee four exhibitions annually in tandem with public and curriculum-based programs.

On view at the Herndon this summer is Source, a themed exploration of seeds featuring four artists examining history, environmental restoration, and the preservation of endangered genetic material.  Comprised of photography, video, sculpture, and process, Eagleson developed the exhibition on subject matter relevant to Antioch’s emphasis on sustainability and the importance of a holistic curriculum, as well as June’s alumni reunion Regeneration: rebirth /restore/ reconnect which featured keynote speaker Majora Carter, an urban agricultural entrepreneur and MacArthur Award recipient.

Dornith Doherty, Husk Corn
Texas based photographer Dornith Doherty created her series Archiving Eden through collaborating with biologists at seed banks around the world, including at England’s Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens.  With X-ray equipment, Doherty documents the details of seeds naked to the human eye. She writes, “The amazing visual power of magnified x-ray images, which springs from the technology’s ability to record what is invisible to the human eye, illuminates my considerations not only of the complex philosophical, anthropological, and ecological issues surrounding the role of science and human agency in relation to gene banking, but also of the poetic questions about life and time on a macro and micro scale.”

Doherty’s large-scale pigment prints are striking contrasts of abstract white forms surrounded by a rich blackness.  Other works in this series were created with chromogenic lenticular printing, which alters the images of seeds when viewed from different angles, creating color changes along with a sense of depth and motion.  Archiving Eden succeeds in its powerful reimagination of a seed’s physicality.

Ice Books: receding/reseeding is an ongoing series by eco-artist Basia Irland of New Mexico.  Each work is developed alongside biologists, botanists, and communities, locating a local river as a site, and then collecting native seeds.  Water from the site is then frozen into a book form, which can weigh up to several hundred pounds.  Irland uses the collected seeds to create an “ecological language” as text on their pages.  In a symbolic performance, these ice books are then launched in to the site river as a mark of sending the seeds back into their natural environment.  On view is the documentation of several of these events, including photographs and video of the finished ice books before and during launch.  Irland will be in Dayton this September as a part of a shared residency between the University of Dayton and Antioch College, and will launch a newly created ice book at the Stewart Street Bridge on the Greater Miami River.

Amber Ginsburg and Joe Madrigal, FLO(we){u}R

Collaborative team Amber Ginsburg of Chicago and Joe Madrigal of New York created the work FLO(we){u}R through their interest in history, ceramics, and creating interactive opportunities with their audiences.  FLO(we){u}R is a recreation of the World War I terra cotta bombs commissioned by the American military. These bombs were filled with baking flour and dropped from airplanes to help calibrate their targeting based on the residual white marks left on the landscape.  Source features examples of these recreated terracotta bombs created in mass production by Ginsburg and Madrigal.  Now the flour bombs have become flower bombs, and visitors can check out these “bomb” shakers to disperse white clover seed at the Antioch College Golf Course.

Source embodies the experience with contemporary art in both a gallery and through interaction that make university gallery programs special.  Eagleson said “We are in a position to take more risks and we don’t have the same expectations as some of the other nearby exhibition venues.”  These principles are guiding the future of the Herndon Gallery, with upcoming exhibitions featuring the work of Sheila Wilson, a media artist whose work translates stories and narratives through the body and photographic processes, followed by Meme: Culture in Transmission, an exhibition interpreting the concept of “meme” or replication, transmission, and mutation of cultural ideas or codes, guest curated by Susan Byrnes.

 Basia Irland, Elderberry Book

“We want to show work that doesn’t get much of a chance in more traditional galleries or museums,” said Eagleson.  “It is inventive work that is breaking trends…poetic, performative, and profound.”  Source does just that, finding a place in showcasing contemporary practice and bridging a meaningful relationship to Antioch students, alumni, and the public.  “It takes you to a place,” Eagleson said.

Source is on view at the Herndon through August 17, with a closing lecture presented by exhibition artist Amber Ginsburg.  The Herndon Gallery is located on Morgan Place in the South Hall building of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, and open from 1 – 4 pm Tuesday through Saturday.  Learn more about Source and the Herndon Gallery by visiting http://antiochcollege.org or calling (937) 768-6462.

Originally published in the Dayton City Paper, July 31, 2012.

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